September 10, 2010

Google Instant – a Reminder that Google is not equal to SEO

Those of you out there who put an equal sign between SEO and Google should really try to reconsider. Google is only one of many popular search engines out there and if you aspire to be a good international SEO you have to consider all of them when considering how to bring your clients or your company success.

Lets’ start with a little video about what Google Instant is all about so that we know we’re talking about the same thing here. It is really nothing more than an advanced Google suggest with an annoying ajax search result page.

Google Instant – what it means

There are a lot of the same old buzzmakers trying to make a buck out of the next thing out there. I don’t know when Steve Rubel started making his name as an SEO. I’ve always seen him as a PR-consultant. He writes in his blog that Google Instant will kill SEO. Without even taking the other search engines into consideration, my take on the story is that it won’t even kill SEO in Google.

Google Instant actually improves search, and thus also optimization, delivering new content to the surface of the searchers. It does decrease the importance of bulk links somewhat as search will be increasingly long tail as the numbers used in search queries is likely to increase. This also puts the demand on publishers to increase their lot of relevant content.

If you as an SEO want to optimize for the web, only a few of these long tail searches will be relevant as you will only put effort into what brings you cash back. The demand that you as an SEO understand analytics as well as conversion will increase as you probably wont be able to bulk traffic in a full vertical any longer. You will have to specialize and know what kind of searches bring you the dough. You will quite fast see what search queries appear as referrals in your analytics and thus make the needed changes in order to rank for those keywords that convert.

In many ways, this kind of search will become even more predictable. Not less predictable. It is obvious that Mr. Rubel doesn’t put much thought into the combination of analytics and on-page/off-page optmization. If you don’t focus on the analytics when working with SEO you are just about as relevant as a politician answering a question they don’t know the answer too.

Google Instant is an adaptation to the social web – and so should SEO’s

Many SEO’s don’t like social media as anything else than a place to complain about that they don’t like social media. An SEO who wants to be successful in the long tail really should read up on some of the old spam tactics created by auto-generating content from the hidden web. Then translate those theories onto what you can do when you have actual people producing content on your platform. That’s user generated content, I’m talking about. That’s social media.

Users will always be able to generate long tail discussions you wouldn’t ever be able to come up with. A good SEO knows how to take advantage of this. Not only by using the content generated, but also using the internal links created with user generated tags and themes created by what ever system you’re using. If you’re a WordPress user then play around with SEO smart links and your category pages and you’ll see what I’m after.

Bad SEO’s won’t stand a chance – that’s correct

Google Instant will make SEO more of a science, a more exact science. It will require thought, analysis and what ever good SEO’s have been doing for many years. It won’t however kill SEO as a practice. It MIGHT disqualify some wannabe’s, but I am sure that they will have a market as well as it is quite easy to remove Google Instant as your display mode.

Google is NOT equal to SEO

I should end this post with a reminder that Google is NOT equal to SEO. WE still have YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, intranets, On site search, catalogs and all the other very popular search engines to take into consideration. Those are equally important as they can bring you extremely relevant traffic and improve the way you communicate with your website visitors.

SEO is about improving web communication. Get information searchers the information they need. Get buyers the stuff they need. AS FAST AS THEY WANT IT. Good SEO is not about getting a lot of traffic, but getting the traffic that wants your stuff. All else is a waste of both’s time.

Now. Google Instant will be very interesting to study from a user behavior perspective. As the data will (hopefully) be more standardized, as the number of different long search queries will decrease, we will probably also have to adjust our tactics towards a web where we get less relevant traffic than we’re used to on some previously highly converting keywords. However, I am sure users will adapt and learn…. or a competitor to Google will really push for a change back to what the users like. Only time can tell.

4 Comments
  • Jeffrey L. Smith, September 11, 2010 Reply

    Jesper:

    You are spot-on correct. Let's merely assume for the sake of argument that people finding search results faster would augment their original intent, if so, then instant is groundbreaking.

    Personally, after testing it, I still like the convenience, but I am still looking for What I'm looking for, and the user interface is merely a layer.

    I appreciate the depth of the post. Google is just Google after all. There are multiple traffic sources on the web. Some more suited than others, but I really like the flavor of this post.

    Smashing, indeed...

    • Jesper Astrom, September 11, 2010 Reply

      Exactly. It is possibly more important to see how we relate and react to these changes rather than just guessing how they will effect search rankings. In Google's tests it decreased the time searchers spent on actually typing the search query dramatically. What they don't say is how it effected the time on the search result page. Do we choose faster or do we still spend as much time selecting between different returned pages?

      It is too early to say, but one could assume that irregularities in titles will become increasingly important for CTR as they will really stand out amongst other results as they are displayed whilst you type.

      Anyhow... we can't but speculate at this point :)

  • Birger Hartung, September 13, 2010 Reply

    @ Jeffrey @Jasper
    Great post, great comments. A must read!

  • Gary Young, September 23, 2010 Reply

    In my limited experience of using the new Google instant search, I believe it has impacted my keywords with 3+ words in keyword phrases. This is because people are naturally lazy and suggestible and the web maze easily diverts people attention to different areas. I having to will have to draw up a new SEO strategy if instant search becomes popular.


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